With the new AMD FX-8350 using the same old socket, the CPU itself doesn't appear much different physically compared to other chips. I rarely saw the CPU sit at 4.0 GHz with Turbo enabled; most loads saw 4.1 GHz or 4.2 GHz on most cores. The default voltage of 1.4 V seemed shockingly high to me since I predominately used Intel products for almost a year, but AMD uses a different silicon process which makes a direct comparison unacceptable. Default memory speed for the AMD FX-8350 is up to 1866 MHz, and I had no problems at all in making the AMD Performance Edition memory work with my test motherboard. Since I had to find my own motherboard to test with, as AMD provided me with nothing other than a chip in a plastic case, I wasn't 100% sure that everything was truly operating as it should, and I know that the cooler I use has been abused by myself quite a bit, which means that it might not perform as well as a new unit. Be that as it may, I was really impressed by how easy it was to get everything up and running.
AMD has made many improvements to the FX CPU platform with the introduction of the Piledriver CPU core. Most of them are optimizations instead of new features. There are a couple of new ISA extensions, FMA3 and F16C, but that is basically it. The other changes improve existing parts by increasing efficiency or, in the case of the TLB and Load Queue, increasing size. There is also the boost in default clockspeed, which makes many think that there isn't going to be much of a change in the CPU cores after all. However, AMD says that these improvements lead to an average 15% performance boost over the previous Bulldozer CPUs, which would be a decent boost considering there have been no changes in process technology.
And that's that. Not too much excitement, is there? The real excitement is, to me, in the one thing I've managed to skip over for now and that's the price. Not a single report on the actual MSRP list prior to the launch has been corrected. The true MSRP for the FX-8350 is $195, which directly replaces the current FX-8150. AMD is saying: "Look, we have made our CPUs better. Here are faster chips for the same price, since they don't cost us more to make than the previous design". That, to me, is very exciting because I know exactly how the new FX-8350 performs. Let's take a look.